Creating a sense of community
5:30am Saturday 10th May 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
COMPARED to other parts of the town, North Swindon is a relatively new area which has grown up in the past 20 years, and the St Andrew’s ward is no exception.
It takes in St Andrew’s Ridge, Redhouse, Ash Brake and parts of Abbey Mead, and while there are a few village centres, the area is predominantly residential.
There are also a number of large-scale housing projects, most notably Tadpole Farm and around the Abbey Stadium, which are likely to further alter the look of the ward.
Because of its status as a new area, one of the main problems faced is a lack of a community feel, something which is widely accepted to affect much of North Swindon.
The lack of community spirit in the area is reflected in a particularly low turnout in the last local election, totalling just 24 per cent.
Work is being done in a bid to remedy this, such as the North Swindon Community Day, but whichever councillor wins the seat on May 22, working to improve this will need to be a key priority.
Construction under way of the Redhouse Community Centre
A potential lifeline on the horizon is a new Redhouse Community Centre. It is being constructed to house the new Tadpole Farm School before its permanent home is built.
Once the children have moved out, making sure it is turned over to the community is of the upmost importance, according to those who live in the area.
The chairman of Blunsdon Parish Council, which covers St Andrews and is non-political, Ian Jankinson, said: “However it is done, it is absolutely vital we get a community centre for Redhouse.
“It is something which will provide a focus for the area and is therefore really important that we get it as soon as possible.
“Building a greater sense in community will really benefit the whole area and whoever does win the seat will need to be willing to help build this up.”
Another issue which needs consideration in St Andrew’s is that of parking.
Many of the streets are very narrow, meaning parking is the bane of many residents lives.
“Many of the roads were not built wide enough for the number of cars,” said Ian.
“While finding a solution is not going to be easy, it is something any councillor who comes in is going to have to face.
“Whatever happens, the parish council wishes all the candidates well and is looking forward to working with whoever wins.”
St Andrew’s Candidates:
Gary BELBEN UK Independence Party
Mary FRIEND Conservative
Tony GARRETT UK Independence Party
John KEEPIN Labour
Gemma MCCRACKEN Conservative
Jason MILLS Labour
Margaret MISTRY Liberal Democrat
Turnout in 2012 election: 24 per cent